Here’s a link to a video clip shot in slow motion at Catrine last night of smolts rising in the lade. While this is an appreciation of the agility and athleticism of smolts (juvenile salmon) the video highlights one of the main problems facing smolt emigration from the River Ayr when they become drawn into an artificial lade.

The smolt’s progress towards the sea appears to be delayed and their life survival strategy of shoaling is fragmented as they leave the lade in dribs and drabs. The delays result in the smolts becoming susceptible to disease as water temperatures rise and prone to increased levels of predation and damage as all sorts of predators home in on the high concentrations of salmon in the lade and the river upstream of the dam. Despite several attempts to improve the situation since 2017, the fact remains that smolts are delayed at this dam and as a result, the numbers leaving the river successfully are reduced. This is an environmental problem (some may say a disaster) where the regulator SEPA, the operators of the hydro scheme and fisheries interests must find a solution and quickly. The status quo is unacceptable. We don’t want to be reporting on a fourth year of delays in 2020.


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4 Responses to Slowing things down at Catrine

  1. Ronnie Bunting says:

    What the above comment does not reveal is the the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and its ecologists etc have approved the system at Catrine as “fit for purpose”. When addressing a situation to the public it is important to to be seen as being fair.

  2. Stuart Brabbs says:

    I think the jury is well and truly out on that Ronnie and it has yet to be determined whether this is fit for purpose or not. SEPA are aware of our concerns and have yet to provide answers to pertinent questions that remain.

    While you may be of the opinion that everything is rosy at the dam, our research last year and observations this year would suggest things are far from perfect and anyone can see that an accumulation of smolts such as has been evident at Catrine this and in the last two smolt runs isn’t an ideal situation.

    What’s more, being fishery specialists, we work with SEPA to ensure problems are addressed and challenge them when their opinions aren’t necessarily the same as ours. That’s a healthy situation and they and we learn from. Only by tackling issues head on are we likely to get things resolved and while you may be of one opinion, we will reserve the right to advise the Board of our opinions and the public too. Transparency is essential and while things are improving, there yet further alterations required to make it fit for purpose in our opinion and we’ll wait and see what SEPA say.

  3. Ronnie Bunting says:

    Improvements can always be made to any situation, but do your observations justify any further disruption and expense. It seems a census of opinion does not agree with your suggestions

  4. Stuart Brabbs says:

    Once SEPA can and has answered our questions, then we will consider our position on the issues surrounding salmon and trout smolt and adult migration. In the meantime, there are further issues that we’ve raised that also require to be addressed and I’m sure SEPA will eventually deal with these too as they are conditional to the CAR license issued.
    We only want the CAR license conditions to be upheld. Nothing more.